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County reveals vision for SK growth

About 50 local residents came to Givens Community Center on Wednesday night to give Kitsap County officials their opinions on a variety of expansion options for Port Orchard, Gorst, McCormick Woods and several other areas expected to welcome thousands of new residents by 2025.

“Thank you for taking the time to come here tonight,” said Eric Baker of the county’s Department of Community Development (DCD), which is currently preparing a 10-year update to its 1998 Comprehensive Plan. “This is the overriding document that establishes the quality of life for Kitsap County, and makes this place what it is today.”

About half of the audience members Wednesday night had attended previous “vision” meetings in March, during which the county collected their suggestions on how each Urban Growth Area (UGA) should evolve and had returned to comment again, this time on three “alternatives” DCD staff had created largely from their input.

Baker began the meeting by showing maps of each UGA and its three possible evolutions, each development zone represented with a different color to show where the rural, urban and high-residency clusters would appear in sections such as the South Kitsap Industrial Area (SKIA) and West Bremerton.

The expansion of these UGAs is needed, Baker said, because the county is predicting it will have 100,000 new residents 20 years from now, and that 76 percent of them should be living in one of the areas previously targeted for growth.

Baker said the alternatives were designed to show impacts that ranged from low to medium and high. For example, each “Alternative 1” showed its UGA staying basically the same, while the second options revealed how the area might accommodate most of the population growth and the third showed ways to accommodate more than the predicted amount of people.

Before asking audience members to evaluate each alternative, however, Baker advised them that they did not have to keep the options as they were, but instead could break them into sections that could be cut and pasted.

“Each alternative should not be looked at as a whole, but evaluated as pieces,” he said.

Baker also tried to quell beforehand much of the comments about a potential racetrack locating near the Bremerton National Airport, reminding residents that while his office had received a request for a zone change on nearby land, he said the change may or may not include a racetrack.

Meeting facilitator Melinda Posner then broke the audience into small groups that one by one visited stations at which they could learn about and discuss the UGAs in more detail.

At each station, facilitators answered questions and recorded comments.

Learning that most of the alternatives for the Port Orchard UGA included significant expansion of the Bethel Corridor, one resident asked if the county would be speeding up progress on roadwork in the area to accommodate the inevitable increase in traffic.

Baker said the county was proceeding with planned improvements, but that the work was taking longer than previously anticipated due to various difficulties, such as the acquiring of right-of-way taking “much longer than expected.”

According to the DCD, comments collected at Wednesday’s meeting will now be used to help its staff and consultants to further refine the alternatives and ultimately identify one county-wide draft as the “Preferred Alternative.”

The full “Draft Integrated Comprehensive Plan/EIS” is scheduled for publication by September, and at that time public comment will again be collected during another round of workshops.

Baker said the updated plan must be completed by Dec. 31, which was the reason for the “very aggressive timeline.”

For more information on the plans and the process, visit www.MyKitsap.org.

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